by: Melissa McClone
Series: Ever After
Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Tule Publishing
A royal wedding. A meddlesome mother. An unexpected union.
A European getaway during the Christmas holiday is exactly what veterinarian Katrina “Kat” Parsons needs. She can’t wait to be a bridesmaid in her childhood friend’s royal wedding, but she hopes to steer clear of the bride’s arrogant older brother.
Crown Prince Guillaume wants his younger sister’s wedding day to be perfect, but he’s suspicious of Kat. He and his mother on are on high alert, afraid Kat is not just there for the wedding, but also to find a prince of her own.
But when Kat’s kindness and generosity prove them wrong, the prince realizes there’s more to her than he ever imagined. Can he trust his heart or will he lose the one woman he can’t live without?
Kat reached the bed and realized she’d left the door open. Closing anything, other than the refrigerator, was something she never had to worry about living alone.
“I’ll leave the door open in case you want out.”
The dog motioned with his left front paw.
She laughed. “Is that your sign for belly rubs?”
The motion continued.
“Okay, I can take a hint.” Kat sat and rubbed his tummy.
The dog looked like he was smiling.
“Aw, you’re so cute.”
She stopped rubbing to give the dog more room, and he waved his front left paw again.
She rubbed him again. “A little spoiled, huh?”
The sound of Gill’s voice knotted the muscles at the back of her neck. She looked up. He stood in the doorway with his hands at his side.
Where had he come from?
Kat hadn’t heard footsteps or noticed anyone in the hallway, but she couldn’t help but stare at him now.
A handsome dog for a gorgeous guy.
He wore gym shorts, and his T-shirt clung to him as if he’d been working out. Talk about fit. Not overly muscular. Just right.
Her mouth went dry.
His slightly red cheeks made him seem younger and look like he had at camp after they finished an activity under the hot sun. His damp hair curled more and begged to have fingers run through the strands.
Not her fingers.
Hot, yes, and disappointing that he didn’t have a great personality to match his good looks. Still, she couldn’t believe how normal he appeared in the workout clothes.
Normal and attractive.
Best part? He seemed almost approachable.
Not that sweat and running shoes made the prince less of a jerk.
She focused on the dog. “Many of my clients spoil their pets.”
“Most animals don’t have an entire staff at their beck and call. More than a few here treat him as their own.”
“Maximillian’s lucky to have so much attention.”
“Yes, he is.”
Gill’s gaze was locked on her. Not only that, but he was walking toward her.
Kat’s pulse skyrocketed. Cardio workout not required.
The room seemed smaller in spite of the high ceiling. The prince was tall—an inch, maybe two over six feet—but his presence seemed much larger.
The dog waved his paw again.
Maximillian. Her cheeks warmed. The prince wanted his dog. He wasn’t here for her.
A twinge of disappointment shot out of nowhere.
Not how she should be feeling about a man like Gill. A man—make that a prince—who didn’t hide the fact he hated her.
Must be his hotness factor.
“I’d stop petting Maximillian.” Gill came even closer. “Or he’ll be after you for rubs while you’re here.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Because you love animals.”
He hadn’t asked a question, but she answered anyway. “Yes.”
Gill stood at the side of her bed. A raw, earthy scent replaced his expensive aftershave from earlier. His leg was mere inches from hers. One slight move and she would bump into him. The temptation to do just that to see his reaction was strong.
Bad idea. Best not to agitate the beast.
She had enjoyed poking and prodding him when she was younger. Maybe that was part of the reason he acted so annoyed around her.
Hi Melissa. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Hello! It’s so nice to be here with you today. I’m doing well and excited about Christmas. My oldest daughter, who is a freshman, will be home from college so I’m counting the days for that, too!
That sounds really good. Christmas at the Castle is the third book in your Ever After series. Tell me about the series and what readers can expect from this story.
The Ever After series consists of three stories right now (more are planned!) Each story is a standalone romance with its own hero and heroine, but characters from previous stories do reappear in subsequent stories. The Ever After Productions film crew is what ties the series together.
Christmas at the Castle combines two of my favorite kinds of romance—holiday and royal. Readers can expect to find a sweet romance (kisses and sexual tension, but no sex) with a happily ever after that also touches on friendship and family.
That sounds really good. Tell me about Crown Prince Guillaume and Katrina Parsons.
Crown Prince Guillaume aka Gill is the second son of a monarch and never wanted to be king, but he is doing what’s required of him. He’s no prince charming, but wary, distrustful, and protective of his younger sister. Next to his sister, his other love is his dog, Maximillian.
Katrina Parsons is a small-town girl now veterinarian who knows little about royalty or life outside the US. She dreams of having a family of her own, but that seems so far off from where she is now (trying to pay off student loan debt), but she’ll settle for a kiss under the mistletoe.
What surprised you about these two?
I was surprised by how much they didn’t want to be together.
Oh my gosh.
That was a bit of a problem considering this is a romance novel! They kept fighting me. It took me some time to finally let go and allow them to tell the story they wanted instead of the one I originally had in mind!
I love characters who have to have the story told their way. When and where do you write?
I write whenever I can. Sometimes that means getting up at 4 am or staying up late when everyone else has gone to bed. Other times, I wait until the kids leave for school and make the most of that time. I wish I had a more regular writing schedule, but my family comes first and that often means I must be flexible with the writing time.
If I’m at home, I either write in my bedroom where my nineteen-year-old cat prefers me to be or in our great room if our two dogs are lonely and need attention. Twice a week, I meet with a group of writers at Panera for what we call a write-in. The other place I write is in my minivan or at the pool when my two youngest kids have a swim meet or practice.
I would sooooo love to hang out at Panera and have a group of writers walk in. What’s your favorite part of a romance to write? (The beginning, the first meeting, first kiss, getting to know each other, first love scene, big fight, HEA or something else?)
I can’t say I have a favorite part because each story is so different. Depending on the book, it’s been one those things you mention above.
For Christmas at the Castle, my favorite part to write was a short scene I added as I was finishing up revisions. It’s the scene in the art museum. The scene wasn’t in the original draft and not something I’d considered, but it just came to me during revisions. I’m so glad that happened because I had a blast with it. I must admit I was laughing the entire time as I pictured this scene unfolding and typed the words.
Do you have any Christmas traditions you share with your family?
We have several traditions, so I’ll just share three of them with you:
One is having an advent wreath and lighting the appropriate candle(s) each night. It’s lovely when the three purples and one pink candles are lit, and we know Christmas is almost here.
Another tradition is a favorite of the kids—the chocolate advent calendars
to countdown the days to Christmas. They only cost a dollar or two, but bring so many smiles to our house during the month of December, even now that our youngest is thirteen.
We also open one gift on Christmas Eve. It’s always pajamas and the kids never tire of this. But it’s fun to see what pajamas we each get and then to wear them that night. I wash the pajamas before I wrap them – a pet peeve of mine!
We do the whole one gift on Christmas Eve too. It’s also a pair of pajamas. We then watch a Christmas movie, before the kids go to sleep. What’s next for you?
In February, the The Valentine Quest will be released. It’s part of a twelve-book series that comes out monthly called Love at the Chocolate Shop from Montana Born Books and features six authors: C.J. Carmichael, Debra Salonen, Roxanne Snopek, Steena Holmes, Marin Thomas, and me. I’m doing three of the stories—November ’16, February ’17, and May ’17.
I’ve heard about this series. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the books. Melissa, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me.
Thanks for having me. It’s so nice to visit, and I love connecting with romance readers!
Purchase Christmas at the Castle from:
The Ever After Series:
(Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon.)
Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she travelled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over twenty-five romance novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members through Soldiers’ Angels and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.
Places to find Melissa McClone:
Melissa is giving away this amazing prize pack (within the US), make sure you enter below!
$10 Amazon gift card
Thirty-One Gifts Zipper Pouch
Autographed paperback copy of The Cinderella Princess
Christmas at the Castle Bottle top keychain